6/29/2015 Klamath Falls OR to Bend OR

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Shawn is resting so I’m writing the blog. This is Sherpa the ebike, Hi, I do the work. First of all, I get along pretty well with Shawn. The only thing is, I have to keep reminding him that it is my job to keep us moving. Every time we start going up a hill or need to speed up he reflexively jams on my pedals. “Hey, ease up” I tell him, “you’re doing my job.”

The other thing I don’t like is sand. And I don’t like how Shawn lost control of me walking me down a hotel stairway and bashed my light into the hotel wall denting my basket. One more thing- I have nice lines, simple and strong, but those saddlebags sag and bulge my hind area. I just hope people don’t think it’s me. Shawn doesn’t care, he’s at that age where he is in denial about the importance of good looks.

Oh yeah, we went a long way today, over 130 miles. I could go farther but Shawn’s fanny gives out. Don’t blame the seat, it’s the most comfy one we could find with a suspension seatpost. No, the fault lies elsewhere.

One more thing. I am covered with road dust and need cleaning. We just bought some new baby wipes. Hey, use what’s left of the old wipes to clean me! I prefer a shower but we’re camping.

Now the pictures.

There is a lot of water in Oregon and it seems to be confined to rivers. I’m not fond of it, don’t get it. Shawn takes lots of pictures of the stuff.

River A.

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River B.

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I’ve never seen a volcano.

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Yeah, well that’s all that’s relevant. Blogging is easy. Don’t know why Shawn fusses over it so much when he should be cleaning me.

6/28/2015 Weed CA to Klamath Falls OR

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Today I rode out of California into Oregon. Goodbye Mt. Shasta!

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Hello Butte Valley National Grassland.
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I’m riding up the center of Oregon on Highway 97. The first town across the border there is Klamath Falls. The Klamath river fronting the city has a massive log float.

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Have you ever sat and watched one of these big irrigation machines run? They will sit still for five minutes then the whole assembly will lurch forward two feet.

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I am a sad to be leaving the beauty of the Sierra range. Traffic along 97 is heavy and the shoulder narrow. Today is one of those push on days.

6/27/2015 Burney Falls to Weed

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There is great comraderie amongst hikers of the Pacific Coast Trail, and some of it rubs off on me. I am offered food, accepted as an adventurer, and this morning meet a tall lanky red headed PCT hiker with a fluffy red beard. Both of us have permaculture yards, use photovoltaics, and don’t own cars. He finishes the conversation with “I’d better get going, I have 30 miles to hike today.”

I wish to give him an appropriate send off, and “be safe” isn’t it. So I say “Be Bold.” He grins and replies “Life is short, do epic stuff.” My heart is moved- at last, a send off I can cherish.

As I cycle I think of Mary Olivers poetry;

“What are you going to do with your one
wild and precious life?”

and know that, at least for today, both of us have answered that question richly.

I hike to Burney Falls to take pictures. I am alone there. It is lovely beyond words.

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Burney Falls. Notice that there are two levels of falls. The top level cascades over the cliff, the lower layers are springs that come out from the rocks.
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As I give praise and appreciation to the falls tears stream from my eyes. It is a very special place.

Burney Falls

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Later in the day, surprising me, Mt. Shasta appears. It towers above the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and I am in awe, rubber necking it at every peak.

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I ride into Mt Shasta City and feel at home. My bike gets a lot of attention. I head for Weed, my final destination of the day, following Google Maps on my phone. After a half dozen miles, the road ends and becomes a trail. Oh no, not again! What to do? Well, it can’t be too far. So I continue and am soon walking as the sand is soft and Sherpa cannot be ridden in sand.

You call this a road Google? Grrrr.

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I slog along for a couple miles. My phone over heats and shuts off. Great, now I’m wandering along sand paths with no guidance. Ok then, Mr. Dead Reckoning. I keep Mt. Shasta on my right and slog on. A town, even a small one, would be hard to miss, right? Sand and rocks fill my sandals. My water jug is emptied. Sherpa works hard, spinning his back wheel kicking grit. I struggle to keep Sherpa upright.

Four miles later I spot the first sign of habitation, a large blue warehouse. A path leads that way, then turns away. I leave the path and push Sherpa over rail road tracks to enter the back gate of a water bottling plant.

Phew, I made Weed.

6/24, 25, 26 /2015 Walker to Reno to Susanville to McBurney Falls

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Some well wishers say “Be Safe!” Others say “Have Fun!” While I appreciate their kind wishes, they are wussy wishes. I have come up with a more powerful wish; “Be Bold!”

I wake and cycle into the very lovely Walker Valley.

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I was going to cut into the Sierras on highway 89, but it is closed due to an uncontained forest fire. I also need a new charger for my MacBook Air. So I change plans and decide to dip into Nevada long enough to visit Reno and pick up a charger.

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I pass lovely Topaz Lake.

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I am done at the Mac Store around 6:00pm. I’ll need to stay in a hotel in Reno.

This should be easy, right? But traffic is heavy, I am hot and have arrythmia. I head for the strip. Twelve hot congested miles later I am there. The first hotel I see is an Indian run hotel. I am very fatigued, my heart is pounding. I ask him if he has a room on the ground floor. I need one so I can get my bicycle inside. He says yes. I ask again. Yes, yes, he insists.

I have been reading a book about Indian culture. They hate to dissapoint. I ask to see the room. He says that after I pay I can see the room. I am tired. I pay. Guess what-the room is on the 2nd floor. I tell him this. He says that he doesn’t have any ground floor rooms, and that I can take my bike up the stairs. I get my money back. That takes 25 minutes.

Leslie has called me back. The Circus Circus will store bikes in the luggage room. I go there and ask Daniel a porter to help. We put the bike in the luggage room and plug it in. Great, thanks Daniel. I get a room. Great. I take a long hot shower and go to an all you can eat buffet and have what Jim Tucker, John Pearlman and I used to call “a real bloater.” Together we cycled from Canada to Mexico just out of high school. I talk my arrythmia down and fall asleep. What a relief.

I wake early feeling great and ride to Susanville along highway 395.

But what is this?

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A shoe tree!

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Feels like 1925 here in Doyle.

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I camp just outside Susanville in a pine forest. When I awake I ride 65 miles to Old Station and charge at the general store. I enjoy these chargings, I hang out, eat some, talk some. There are more women riding Harleys these days. I ask one why she rides. She says “Every time a relationship with a guy would end I would lose my ride. So I bought one for myself. I like it better than riding in back anyway” she confides. And off she roars. Mike from Boston tells me of his 8 mile cycling commute back home. His dad Bill tells me of Europe. And so several hours are pleasantly whiled away.

The only problems I am still having are with the back wheel and tire. This is a spoke replacement operation. Later that day it was a flat. These are very curable problems. Use a 48 spoke rear and call Schwalbe for tire advice. Future ecyclists won’t have this be a daily issue as it is for me.

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Escaped wheat lines the roads.

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Sherpa and I have climbed many long grades now.

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The Lassen National Forest is a multi use forest. There’s logging and living and farming.

I am hot and see a campground- McBurney Falls. They let me in for just $5. I make camp, lose the luggage and ride to the spectacular McBurney falls to dip in the 45 degree water. So refreshing. Then I scoot a mile to the lake and swim there too. The campground is busy with families. Many come back year after year. I’m delighted I stopped here.

6/23/2015 Mono Lake to Walker

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I sit on the seat of a bicycle and pedal to make the world spin. That’s what my life is about. That’s the andidote
for thinking about how long this trip will take. It’s a way of accepting.

Another piece of accepting is my new relationship with the wind. The wind is now my brother. There is a reason I am called shawnwiththewind. Blood. Sometimes my brother lays a gentle hand on my bike and pushes me along. Other times he twists my arm and makes me yell uncle. Often he whispers stories at night as I lay in my tent listening to the leaves talk. He is my constant companion.

Mono Lake sunrise.
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Who wants to spin the world with me on a Mono morning?
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The grade leaving the Mono Lake area.
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If cows went to church this would be their heaven.
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I come to the Walker River. It is so beautiful that I must camp by it. I see a Forest Service campground and pull in. I could pitch my tent next to the row of RV’s and hear their generators run for just $20. I don’t think so.

I find a stealth campsite a few miles down the road. I hike down to the river and shed and rinse my clothes. Then I dunk and scrub and sit there, naked under the river’s sun until the snow melt pulls the heat from my body.

A naked dunk in a cold mountain creek is one of the finest things in life.

The Walker River.
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6/22/2015 Bishop to Mono Lake

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People see me and think I’m tough. When I leave, I hear them say “I couldn’t so that.” Actually I am tender, vulnerable and peaceful. This is where resiliance lives and resiliance works on a whole different plateau than toughness. Flexibility, adapatability, sensitivity, perceptiveness, presence, they all point to the same inner state. No, I’m not tough. Not at all. I would crack.

Today’s big cycling event is the Mammoth Grade. It is about 9 miles of 5% to 7% climbing that leads from Bishop to Mammoth Lake. This is a big test for the gears and mid drive motor.

Looking back at the first bit coming out of Bishop.

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You know it’s a steep climb when you see this:

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Nearing the top:

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The Green Axle batteries, Bafang Motor, and Rholoff hub all work very well. I drive up the grades at a brisk walking speed, about 7 mph, burning less than 350 watts. The mid drive motor and low gearing are the only way an ebike is going to climb a grade like this. (Well, that said, you could put a hub motor in a very small wheel and perhaps make it)

These California mountain towns are surprising to me. I keep expecting to find ghost towns of run down buildings like I saw throughout Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Instead I see vibrant mountain communities with thriving businesses. I like em! Mammoth Lakes is hip!

I charge, eat, and ride on to Mono Lake. Mono Lake has no drainage so the salinity keeps increasing as the water evaporates. It is now twice the salinity of the ocean, and as a result has a unique ecology. There are salt stalagtites growing from the water.

On the steep slopes overlooking Mono steep Sherpa and I find a sorta level nook to camp. I climb the rock and dirt trails by walking besides Sherpa, letting his motor push him up. The back tire spins and kicks out rocks and sand as Sherpa jerks up the trails.

But the view of Mono is enchanting.

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6/21/2015 Lone Pine to Bishop

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What a beautiful sight to see when taking to the highway in the early morning.

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Me and my shadow.

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The view of the instrument panel.

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I am sure glad that I bought that tire pump yesterday. Another wire from the carcass of a truck tire. The rear, always the rear.

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Bishop is a milestone. It is from here that I begin to climb the Sierra Nevada mountain range. If I were on the coast I’d be close to San Francisco. I attract attention in Bishop, mostly from Europeans. My routine is good, the bike is good, onward!

6/20/2015 Brady to Lone Pine

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I woke up to find myself intact, unharmed by a night of sleeping under the open sky on a sunbaked mattress. What a hotel concept…. I try to pump up my tires on the sand and the new pump fails. I have gotten some sand into the piston. It is dead, and after an inspection I conclude it is not rebuildable. This is a serious problem. What if I get a flat on highway 395 and can’t inflate the tire?

At times like this I realize what thin threads keep the adventure together. I decide to ride the 52 miles to Lone Pine and hope there is a hardware store there. I set off into a wind tunnel.

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THe wind increases. I am climbing a long grade fighting the wind and dodging tire carcasses whose wire cartilage will cause flats. I dodge and swerve but they seem to be scattered all over. I am burning 350 watts to go 7mph. Usually 350 watts will get me 17mph. I am not sure if I will make it. Frustration overwhelms me. I fight back a tear. “Why can’t it be easy for once” I complain to myself.

As if by magic, the grade levels, the tire carcasses go away, and the wind stops. And the day kept getting better after that.

This area was a hugh dustbowl and the city of Los Angeles installed hundreds of miles of underground drip irrigation to turn it into a mudbowl.

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The scenery is changing as I climb to Lone Pine. There are actually lakes and some farming too.

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Lone Pine has a harware store and I buy a pump. Phew. Then I charge the bike at the visitor’s center. Outlets are very hard to find here. I enjoy hanging around in Lone Pine. I fit in with my backpack and sunburn. It is a central point to Mammoth Lake, Mono Lake and Death Valley.

Much later I ride out of town and look for a camoing spot. I see this flume of water called the California overflow. If only I could camp next to that and wash off the 107 degree heat.

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An open cattle gate invites me. Yay, it leads to this little pond:

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All my clothes get rinsed and I have a wonderful skinny dip. My, how good that feels after a long hot day.

My desert traveling gives me a new appreciation and awareness of water. Petroleum is replaceable. Water is not. There is no substitute for water. Our civilization and lives and industries depend on clean resh water. To destroy water by fracking is doubly shortsighted.

The desert sun has taken it’s toll on my face.

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6/19/2015 Barstow to Bradys CA.

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There must be 100 trucks at the truck stop, each one a business, a hotel room and a lifestyle. I am a little envious and wish I could sleep in a cool metal bedroom in a giant purring beast. With my road worn appearance I fit into this crowd of men and women and no one notices when I shave in the bathrooms.

The desert routine is to get up and packing at first light and ride some. The 25mph winds are less then. They are a curse when riding into them, and I have about 25 miles of that today, but wonderful when the road turns and they sail me along.

Somewhere during the day I try to find wifi. Today it was a McDonalds. I don’t care two hoots for the food, but I do like the atmosphere. McDonalds has been creating community hang out places. Old men sit at a table and drink coffee and gab. Kids play video games projected onto their tables from above. A row of monitors against the window has a few kids engaged in gaming. A couple of guys like me are into their laptops. A broker explains the ropes to a new realtor. I make phone calls and answer emails and post to the blog then ride.

If a town has a Walmart I head there. I find plugs to charge. I get something to eat and use the bathrooms. I get water. I hang out in air conditioning and no one notices. All my needs are met! I go a dozen miles out of my way today into Ridgecrest for those reasons.

Later in the day I try to find a fast food resterant with a soft drink dispenser. I order a soft drink and a few one dollar items and get 5 refills or so of Sprite. I usually don’t drink soda, but doing this sure takes the edge off the heat and the dehydration.

I ride as long into the afternoon and evening as it feels safe- because it is too hot to camp. In the evening the winds increase, and I battle a 25mph head wind for 6 miles and finally give up and camp. It will be less in the AM. I rode about 110 miles today.

This routine will be reinvented soon when I turn into the small towns of the California mountains.

Solar electricity generating using parabolic reflectors to make steam to drive a turbine to produce electricity near Kramer Junction.
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The wide vistas of the desert.

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Near my desert camp tonight was this sun baked old mattress. I dragged it over. It’s too windy to pitch a tent, I’ll just sleep on it tonight. Notice my bike wheel groove in the sand. The sand looks hard but is actually very soft and impossible to ride on.

You know I can’t remember the last time I slept without a roof over me, even it it was just the roof of a tent. If I go to sleep with my body out in the open, uncovered, what will happen to it? Such a strange irrational fear. Time to put another fear behind me.

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The stars, galaxies and Milky Way are lovely out here. The stars appear to be hanging in the sky by invisible threads. I can distinguish different colors. Meteors surprise me then wink out.

6/16 to 6/18 Yucca Valley to Tempe to Barstow

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I call Lectric Cycles in Tempe when I wake up. Seth answers the phone and gives me confidence they can fix it. Besides, he is sympathetic and friendly. That clinches it. I call Enterprise and reserve a truck, pedal my bike over and load it in, and begin the 5 hour drive.

Seth is quick to diagnose the problem- a bad motor controller. He quickly installs another one for me.

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I ride one of their bikes and am very impressed with how quickly and smoothly it shifts. “I want my bike to shift like that” I whine. Chris the manager leans his head through the door and says “We can do that” and names a great price. But it is late in the day.

I come back the next morning to find Seth at work making the modifications. He is tag teamed by Billy, who finishes the job.

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I have got to tell you, Lectric Cycles has really refined the Bafang Mid drive motor. That is all they do, and they are unique and the best. Their phone is 480-382-0685.

I enjoy my time there and I am reluctant to leave. But Leave I must, so I drive back to Yucca Valley, return the truck as Enterprise is closing, and ride off into the evening to find a desert campsite.

I wake to a dark and forboding sunrise.

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The air smells like smoke. I wonder if a bomb has been dropped while I slept. I break camp and ride, and ask at the first convenience store, always the best source for local info.

It turns out that there is a major fire in Big Bear, just south of us. The morning ride feels surreal. Finally I ride out of it and snap this picture looking back.

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I’m enjoying the colors of the desert.

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There is so much openness and emptiness here. It gives me the same feeling as looking at the ocean.

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I make Barstow, but not without another flat. I don’t mind this kind of flat, a big old nail. I don’t like at all the kinds of flats where I can’t figure out what did it, the slow leak you can’t find.

I am ready to ride into high country. I should leave the desert after two days more. I drink like crazy, and love fast food places with soda bars. The nights camping are fine, and the triple digit heat doesn’t wither me like it did. I think the best part of my ride is just coming up, the California mountains.